WORDS OF FAITH
“… nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine …”
1 Tim. 4:6
Central Church of Christ
January 01, 2012
What is the Real Tragedy?
I was in a gospel meeting. On Tuesday morning, immediately
preceding the morning service, one of the elders made an announcement
that copies of brother Ira Rice’s paper – Contending For The Faith –
were available in the vestibule of the building, and encouraged all
present to get a copy and to study it carefully. On the previous night I had
made reference to the fact that there were some among us who seemed
determined to try to destroy the church.
There were two young people present who immediately got
copies of the paper, read it, and asked to talk with the local preacher. The
preacher talked with them at length and asked me to plan to talk with
them the next day. The preacher and I met with them in the preacher’s
office, and talked with them for two hours.
These young people were definitely and vehemently opposed to
the exposé of two persons highly esteemed by young people in the
church. It was evident that their feelings for the two men discussed were
very deep. They repeatedly stressed that brother Rice had no right to
print such material, and that all such was contrary to the spirit of
Christianity. They insisted that Christian “love” would preclude the
printing of such material. They even sought to explain the motives of
brother Rice in printing this material.
I proceeded to point out that in making their attack upon brother
Rice, that they were doing the same thing as that for which they were
I sought also to emphasize that brother Rice did not write on the
“spur of the moment,” but that these things had been going on for years –
that brother Rice had been concerned about these matters for many years,
had dealt with these brethren directly, and knew whereof he spake. I
stressed to these young people that they did not have the background
information and did not know of all that has taken place over a period of
I carefully and purposely turned the conversation to some other
(but related) matters. We talked about Christian “love.” They thought of
love as being some sort of a cover-all blanket which causes the Christian
to accept (this is their word) anything and everything, to overlook faults
and imperfections (“nobody is perfect”), and to refrain from pointing out
errors in others. They insisted that – because of love – the Lord
“accepted” the adulterous woman.
I tried to help them understand Biblical love, and the fact that it
was because of love (for the two men under consideration, and
especially, for the church) that brother Rice had written in the first place.
They had some questions about inspiration. I had preached on
inspiration the night before, and had stressed that the original words were
words selected by the Holy Spirit. The young man didn’t seem to be
willing to accept this. He stated that he did not agree with what I had
said, but that he didn’t mean that he “disagreed.” He was very vague, and
seemed to lean to the “thought” idea of inspiration.
We talked about the church. Several statements led me to
conclude that they were using the word “church” in a sense foreign to the
Bible. He was critical of our talking about the “Church of Christ.” I
asked him: “Is this (the local congregation) a church of Christ?” He was
real indefinite and evasive for a time, but finally admitted that “it might
be.” I asked him about the Baptist church down the road: “Is it a church
of Christ?” He allowed that it might be. It developed that he was thinking
of the “Church of Christ” as consisting of all the saved in all the
denominations and religions of the world.
We talked about salvation. We discussed what God required of
one in order for that one to be saved. On this point they were equally
uncertain and indefinite.
When these involved themselves in difficulties and
contradictions, and when these were pointed out, the repeated cry was:
“We’re just not communicating.”
These young people requested to talk with me again the next day.
They evidenced a better attitude, but it was the same song. They wanted
me to read a sermon on love. I explained again that love doesn’t keep one
from opposing the wrong and pointing out sin and marking the sinner –
that, rather, it compels it. They were concerned about our “legalism” and
our “phariseeism” in the church.
Near the close of the first session with these young people, the
young man referred to the “tragedy” of a publication like Contending
For The Faith, and “tragedy” of criticizing the men discussed in the paper.
Whereupon I emphasized to them: “The real tragedy is that you
have been in a Christian College for three years and haven’t learned the
meaning of love, the church, inspiration, or salvation.”
– Roy Deaver, (deceased), Defender, June, 1973.